Radio Relevancy

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Radio Relevancy

Post by guglielmomarconi » Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:02 am

I recently read an article in which radio's new Protector Of The Mantle, Mary Beth Garber, was doing her best to discredit some thoughts espoused by Industry Barometer Bob Lefsetz in a recent Variety article. Mary Beth Garber is with Katz Media, and her job is to, well, sell radio time.

Of course one would expect Ms. Garber to weigh in. It's almost like inviting the token Liberal onto Fox, or Conservative onto any other network. Despite the prepared mantra of one sheet facts that reads off like prepared responses at a high school debate meeting, I think the point Mr. Lefsetz is making here is that radio is losing the relevancy war.

It's as simple as that.

Ms. Garber talks about the brave new trails that Radio is blazing on the interwebs, the importance of Social Media (Dear Sweet Lord Jesus who blesses children, kittens and the feeble-minded, can we please get past this?), the strength of Radio's market share in light of competing technologies, defending the vile spot loads currently heard on Radio (the content is sooo good, you'll stay tuned through the break, right?), and her best line of all "most of the companies that own radio stations continue to pour time, money, and talent into making their stations better, more connected, more effective.".

Yes, due to the ubiquitous (read: free and wifi-less) nature of radio, it is, in and of itself, pervasive. It's like when the loud, Natty Ice guzzling , meth smoking neighbors who live in the apartment next to you decide to have sex for the next 3 and 1/2 minutes. You get to experience it whether you want to or not (actually, maybe I'm the only one with that scenario). Much akin to the saccharine sounds of piped in commercial music at retail, radio is unavoidable. Does that make it good? I think, and I stress I think, that the current ear share that radio enjoys is a derivative of its pervasive nature, again, not speaking to the quality of content or those that actively seek it out. Trust me, I don't want to hear what's going on next door, although they're surprisingly limber for large people.

Were radio not losing its strangle hold on the ears of its devotees, I wouldn't see all those white things sticking out of folks ears everywhere I go. I can assure you, by now bored readers, that the overwhelming majority of those people on the metro next to you with headphones, ear buds or two tin cans duck taped around their misshapen skulls, ain't listening to the latest hijinx of Ryan Seacrest. Outside of the Pablum driven, syndicated, although I would allege genetically altered in some bizarro Monsanto radio like laboratory, ahem, "National" personalities, we're left with the banal antics of Whozit and Whatzit in the morning, and who doesn't like a good gang up on a professional athlete battling ALS or mocking a girl with Downs Syndrome calling into a music show. Come on, it's all in good fun!

Save for some bastions of creativity, mostly in the Public radio or Independent radio world, Radio is simply not the place one goes to seek out innovative, cutting or even leading edge thought compelling content. It's just simply something that's there. I know, I know, the kids. The kids love the radio. Those legions of pre, current and post pubescence Justin Bieber boobs have always been the arbiters of good taste.

The point about Radio and the Interwebs speaks more to the ostrich management style of radio with regard to the internet itself. We all know senior management types who during the entire naissance of internet streaming completely wrote off, dismissed and openly doubted the efficacy of putting your station signal online. Radio was late to the game. As a result, it allowed other "services" to get a jump start and actually out-radio radio. Sure iHeart Radio is doing alright, but it should be doing better. At least they had a pool party. Radio should have owned the great wild west that is the internet, but we didn't and now we're in a perpetual game of catch up or worse yet, "Hey, look what I can do, too!".

Yes, there's the great Savior Social Media. It's great that I can follow my favorite "talent" in the social universe. I also follow my local dry cleaners, muffler shop and my wife's OBGYN clinic on Facebook and Twitter as well. That's just the way we do business in this day. Radio doesn't own those bragging rights. Every A list, B list and add your letter list, quasi-celeb collects Twitter followers like a fat kid collecting Rolos.

Ms. Farber quotes a brilliant data point that 96% of all Pandora listeners listen to radio. I'm surprised to learn that people who like listening to music, listen to music. Thanks for that elucidation. Another great data point that the 92% radio listenership is close now to what it was in the 70's. I understand that back in 1965 the number of black and white TV sets in the average household had managed to maintain a strong representation as well. Now, not so much.

I love the argument supporting commercials and that according to surveys, many listeners actually like hearing commercials..... Really, come on, have you actually stopped and listened to a stopset on local radio?

Ms. Farber then speaks to the money being invested BACK into the Industry. The reason radio companies and owners are allegedly dumping money (tell that to the 100's and 100's of our compatriots now working at Lowes) is in an effort to circle the wagons around a diminishing flame. We all know that the next two years hold some very onerous requirements for notes being this space. If owners are indeed investing money and resources into radio, they sure as hell are not investing in talent. Please, prove me wrong.

I'm going to finish my diatribe now. I have an action packed day ahead of me of scanning my AM dial for something other than fundamental Christian fire and brimstone, Hispanic over-modulation and time brokered programming. If I get bored with that, I'll switch over to FM to hear some announcer voicetracked into my market from 1100 miles away, mispronouncing the name of the local sports stadium in a feeble, misguided attempt to "localize", running a contest that sounds like it's local, but is actually concurrently running on 217 other stations (hey, has anyone found that B-106.5 Fugitive yet?) and playing the same 217 tightly researched sure fire "hits" between 8 minute stopsets.

Meanwhile as Nero Fiddles, or more appropriately, as Ryan Seacrest fiddles (maybe there is a better way to say that as I've actually just made myself queasy), we will watch the future of broadcast radio swirl around the shower drain in a sad death spiral mixed in with soap, hair and some other indescribable schmutz.

Sounds like a good day. Yup, radio is doing just fine.

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Re: Radio Relevancy

Post by tvguy2 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:37 am

This is the best thing I've read in months.

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Re: Radio Relevancy

Post by jerrysteffen » Sun Jul 07, 2013 1:17 pm

True that.

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Re: Radio Relevancy

Post by fmantac27 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 6:29 pm

I like the cut of that boy's cyber-jib...

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Re: Radio Relevancy

Post by ronnie2057 » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:17 pm

Yes, one of the best in months.

I've said it's like a restaurant that was the best and most profitable in town. Its owner decided to buy up ALL the restaurants in his area. He had four now. He bet the farm and paid top dollar for the other three restaurants who were competing with him.

Now, he decided he could cut corners and run things a bit cheaper with less quality ingredients and fewer menu choices. The fired all the wait staff that he'd given fairly good raises and he stopped marketing ALL the restaurants. After all, where else could they go?

It's amazing to me how radio account executives can tell prospective and current clients that they MUST invest six percent of their gross revenues in advertising or they'll lose market share. Amazing.

"Ain't there one damned [radio station] that can make me break down and cry," Apologies to David Bowie.

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